Published: 17th May 2021
This Bengaluru teacher conducts free interactive learning sessions for children whose parents are occupied with COVID
Prasanth Nori is a teacher who runs an EdTech platform called Upepo. We spoke to him about the classes he takes
Every day, Prasanth Nori, a 28-year-old teacher from Bengaluru, enters his Zoom classroom. A bunch of students, aged between five and 13, wait for him, eagerly. He has no agenda and no boring lessons to offer. Instead, he asks them what they want to do. For the next hour, they proceed with a set of activities or games that the children want to do or play, with Prasanth overseeing it all. Sometimes, he shares a story or two. Sometimes, they indulge in conversations about anything under the sky. At the end of the day, the teacher and the students are happy.
Prasanth conducts these classes free of cost and started them recently, after the second wave of COVID hit. It all began at the end of April 2021, when he put out a certain tweet with the link to a Google Form, asking parents who are occupied with COVID and need help to keep their children engaged, if they need help. To register, parents had to only fill out the form and they would receive links to the Zoom sessions held thrice a day. A week later, Prasanth had around 28 families sign up.
"I am good at teaching and it looked like the parents are dealing with a lot," says Prasanth, adding that the idea was to create a safe space and a welcoming group for children when their parents visit hospitals and manage the pandemic. "Here, they can share things with each other and have fun. I mostly make them do drawing and craft. They know a lot of games themselves. Kids these days also play 'Name Place Thing Animal'," he laughs. Prasanth says that sometimes, children insist on teaching their peers and he never stops them from doing so.
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There are three sessions each day — 11 am to 12 pm, 2 pm to 3 pm and 4 pm to 5 pm. While it was only Prasanth who taught all the sessions initially, later, a few of his friends and former colleagues also joined him. "A few days ago, we had a session on global warming and climate change. Another day, someone taught them to make comics," he says. He also invites other adults to volunteer to take classes here. All that they have to do is fill up a Google document and select a slot that they would like to teach at.
The classes, Prasanth says, are refreshing for him too. "They're always excited to do something," he says. He also runs an EdTech platform called Upepo (which translates to 'a gush of fresh air' in Swahili) where he is experimenting with playful learning methods for children.